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Bradbury wins the 2017 Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Book Award

Bowling Green, Ky. – Western Kentucky University Libraries has selected River Runs Deep, by Jennifer Bradbury, as the winner of the eleventh Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Book Award. The annual award was created to honor the memory of former WKU librarian Evelyn Thurman, who made significant contributions to children’s librarianship and literacy during her 25 years of service to the university and community. Books eligible for the award must be written or illustrated by a Kentucky author or illustrator or have a significant Kentucky-related connection.

This year’s winning book is an historical fiction book centering around a twelve-year old boy sent to live in Mammoth Cave to heal him of his deadly disease, known today as tuberculosis. While in the cave, Elias trips onto what is known as the Underground Railroad.

Kirkus Reviews said “Bradbury uses an odd historical fact to jump-start a story about the Underground Railroad,” calling it “a solid look at a fascinating historical side note.” Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books states “Elias’ grappling with the morality of slavery is both thoughtful and realistic” adding “The cave itself enjoys a featured role, and readers up for a satisfying fusion of historical fiction, conspiracy, and survival will want to explore.”

Bradbury grew up in Owensboro, Kentucky and now lives in Burlington, Washington. She attended Western Kentucky University and is a former English teacher at Burlington-Edison High School where she fell in love with YA literature. River Runs Deep is a return to one of her favorite childhood settings—Mammoth Cave.

When asked about the book, Drakes Creek Middle School Media Librarian Renee Hale stated, “I really enjoyed the main character, Elias and the fact that he knew what was right and what was wrong,” said Hale. “He wasn’t wishy washy in his beliefs and in the end he did what he needed to do to save those around him.”

The author will be honored at an awards luncheon in November. While in the area, Bradbury will visit local schools, reinforcing the importance of reading, writing and the value of books. Visit for more information about the award.  

This program is made possible by the Evelyn Thurman Children’s Author Fund, the Southern Kentucky Book Fest partnership, and Friends of WKU Libraries. For more information, contact Sara Volpi, literary outreach coordinator for WKU Libraries, or 270-745-4502.


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 Last Modified 9/24/14